This post was updated July 16, 2020.
Many people neglect core exercises, yet having a strong core is essential to a harmonious and whole body. Two of the best exercises for beginning core work are pelvic tilts and lifts. They are great for protecting the back when you have issues like degenerating discs and spinal stenosis in the lumbar region (low back). Tilts and lifts can really help you get your pain under control by lending support to unstable joints. It can also improve proprioception and balance, and improve your posture and alignment.
You want to begin with pelvic tilts, working on these for at least a few weeks before moving on to lifts. Tilts should begin to feel easy by the time you’re doing lifts, and you should be doing at least 3 sets of 10 (easily holding them for a full 10 seconds) before you advance. This will ensure your abs are strong enough to support doing a full pelvic lift.
If you have bulging herniated discs that are cutting off a lot of nerve flow, tilts may be as far as you should go and you should probably be consulting with a neurologist and physical therapist about other forms of intervention. In this case, tilts may still be helpful to relieve some pain and maintain a stronger core to support you through other therapies or even surgery.
Just be sure that you’re working at your level and listening to your pain and be sure you’re seeking the advice of your practitioners before undergoing any exercise, even these. I am not a medical professional, so I can show you how, but I can’t tell you for certain whether or not these exercises are right for you. I can tell you they’ve been instrumental in keeping the surgeon’s knife at bay for me, though. I was told by my surgeon I’d be back for more in five years. It’s been nine years and I’m still doing pretty good!
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For everyone else, once you’re doing lifts, if you experience temporary fatigue or pain, you can always go back to pelvic tilts for a less strenuous workout that day. Be sure when doing these exercises that you don’t engage your neck and you don’t overdo it on the first day. For a full tutorial on how to do these exercises safely with a connective tissue disorder like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, RA or Lupus, watch this video: